The sum of R177 million of taxpayers money has been reportedly lavished on advertisement in the 2015-16 financial year of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).
This was in a report disclosed by the transport Minister Dipuo Peters in response to a parliamentary question asked by Thembekile Majola of the Democratic Alliance.
The minister also disclosed that the Department of Transport and its entities spent a total of more than R268m on advertising in the 2015-16 financial year, including expenditure on road safety campaigns during the Easter and festive periods.
Road Accident Fund and the Road Traffic Management Corporation stands as top areas where chunk of the taxpayers money went into. These two were paid close to R30m for advertisements in the past financial year.
Despite the finance minister’s call for government departments to cut down on wasteful spending, government agencies seems not to be adhering to these calls.
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget Speech in February, proposed measures to cut government spending by R25bn, including reductions in advertising expenditure.
The transport department and its entities budgeted close to R280m for advertisements in the 2016-17 financial year, of which Sanral comprises R175m.
In September last year, Sanral was ordered by the court to review its plans for the highways as it (the court) sets aside the toll plan in judgement. The court also ruled that if Sanral wanted to proceed with its toll plans, it had to start from scratch and conduct a proper public participation process.
During the last year’s legal process, the agency placed quite a number of adverts, including inserts in Western Cape newspapers in order to explain their aim of tolling national roads in the province.
Meanwhile, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) who charged Sanral to court said Sanral sent over 2 000 summonses to non-paying motorists and that a total of R145 million was paid by 130,000 motorists – averaging R1,115 per motorist.
The organisation also revealed that Sanral has an outstanding e-toll debt which has increased since September 2015, and is now around the R8-billion mark and climbing, making Sanral’s debt problem insurmountable.